TW!STED (2016) Revealed (Part 1)


Many of you who were lucky enough to attend and watch my debut directing theatre play last month have been requesting about the full explanation of TW!STED. Because it was showcased and designed using a contemporary theatre form and perspective (and not the traditional theatre design), I am willing to give you the full explanation of the message of the play.

As a whole, I chose Disney as the main theme because many are still unaware of the true nature of Disney, perhaps people haven't thought of studying it. Well, NEWSFLASH: Disney is more than just fairy dust and happily ever after. The narrative, as well as, the characters send off messages that are less-than-friendly to society , especially children, be it explicitly or implicitly. Some even played with our unconscious minds, embedding values that are certainly harmful to everyone, if not now, later in life. I thought these things were interesting to explore, and what better to way to explore it than in a theatrical form? Note that, however, this is highly based on my interpretation and materials that I have read and analysed. Surely, being a media student opens your eyes by training your media-viewing through analysing media texts such as this.

Let's start with the aesthetics of the stage and costume design. I purposely chose minimalism to enhance the antithesis on Disney. When the production team asked me "How do we design the stage?" I simply said, "None. Nothing. No design whatsoever." And as for the characters, most cast members asked, "What do we wear? What are our costumes?" I replied, "Black and white. With items (coloured) that give sufficient hints to show who you are as a character." I admit, they were unsure at first, because many have been exposed to highly commercial productions where costumes play a major part in the characterisation. I did, however, add in some values from traditional theatre. In terms of costumes: I asked the five main characters to dress in full costume, because this play, after all, plays with their identity. In addition to that, I also adapted MASK work, originated from Greek theatre & Commedia Dell'arte. Also incorporated some paintings and maxims - I'll explain later.

Now let's look at the five main characters, namely, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aladdin & Tinkerbell, on a case by case basis. I chose these five characters mainly due to their respective narratives - they stand out amongst the rest (and less controversial). I had to eliminate Sleeping Beauty, Tangled and The Little Mermaid. I'll explain later on why these characters didn't make it. I also didn't include villains - they have their own stories (TW!STED 2, perhaps? lol!)

FOR PART ONE, I will be talking about Cinderella and Snow White.

Cinderella. Obviously, everyone knows her story. A stepdaughter who meets the prince, leaves a glass shoe, marries the prince, happily ever after. This is rather quite simple and straightforward... if you see it the way I did. The glass shoe is a symbol of materialism. In other words, Disney teaches children to dress well in order to be praised by society. In case you have not noticed, media giants (Disney included) standardised the portrayal of 'ideal' women. To be liked, you need to be pretty, sexy, thin, and above all things, matters triumph all. She lusts for standard beauty, she lusts for expensive things, all to impress... well, men. This interpretation is enhanced by the presence of the stepmother and the two stepsisters (Drizella and Anastasia), who equally wanted the same thing. Also notice the gaze of most men, including the king and the prince themselves. Let's leave it to that. Then, you may ask, "what is the fairy godmother doing?" In the play, she holds a mask (a metaphor of face/identity) and caress it from time to time. If you see it, the fairy godmother is the one who lures Cinderella to be who she wants to be. This is where it gets more intense. During this particular scene in the play (Music played: "Closer" by Kylie Minogue), Cinderella gazes upwards, because let's face it, a fairy godmother is seen as a god-like being. However, I chose to get the fairy godmother to be at a lower level (platform stage) than Cinderella herself because of her true negative identity. At the beginning of the musical number, there was a slight pause to show a tableau. This tableau is heavily adapted from a painting by Sandro Bottecelli, The Birth of Venus.


The reason for this is because of the representation of ideal women. I couldn't help but to think that it leads to the rise of sex symbols in celebrity culture, for instance, people like Marilyn Monroe and even Venus herself. The character of Cinderella is in line with this phenomenon. The scene ends with the greek chorus (a group of actors with non-specific roles) who in this scene was holding diamond necklaces drags Cinderella to the tragedy part of the play (where she realised her true identity).

Snow White. No one in the movie explains to us where she came from. Who is Snow White? Hmmm... Perhaps, we shall start with the name. It should already give you a hint of who, or rather, WHAT she is. She is a metaphor of a substance. A drug. A powder. Yeap, cocaine. Watch the movie again and try to ask yourself why there are more dusts and cobwebs than necessary, especially in the seven dwarves' hut? That's true, even the SEVEN DWARVES represent the seven symptoms of taking cocaine: Doc, Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful and Dopey. There is also a likelihood of Snow White being a prostitute. At one part, I thought it is purely coincidental that the song the seven dwarves sing in the beginning is "Hi Ho." ...or is it now? And then, is it not a taboo for children to have a girl to share a house with seven men? So yes, there is a chance for Snow White to represent not only a prostitute, but also a substance. Quite heavy concepts, I tell you. This is why I picked Ed Sheeran's A-Team, because that song is also about a prostitute who is a metaphor of cocaine. A-Team means "Class A drug" i.e. cocaine. THE MORE YOU KNOW! The first part of her scene ends with the seven dwarves putting a mask to a sleeping Snow White, again, to show that the seven dwarves play a double role of being greek chorus (who drag Snow White into the tragedy part of the play) - I purposely put the same actors for the dwarves and the greek chorus. In the second part of the play, there is a scene where she repeatedly say "I'm [the seven dwarves' name]. I'm Snow White" with the seven dwarves clapping then white dusts spread, then Snow White takes a heavy sniff. To show more of the process where Snow White becomes cocaine. Another contemporary acting method I used here in this part of the play, inspired by German performer, Pina Bausch. Where the body movements express the emotions limitlessly. However, most of the movie is still mysterious to me, like, what a red apple signifies and even, why the animals are so drawn to her. Worth to analyse, if you ask me.

I'll let everyone sink that in first. Quite heavy concepts. Stay tuned for more in part two where I will be talking about Belle, Aladdin and Tinkerbell.

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